You will pardon me being so sorely ignored, squalls, storms and Shehanne means I have been left kicking my heels, although I do understand that Shehanne is going to blog pirates weddings. Yes, pirates had wives—some of them anyway– and pirates had treasure. At least those who did not squander it all on rum and women. Indeed, the business of pirates having treasure is grossly exaggerated. They tended to steal candles, thimbles, frying pans, thread, soap, kettles and other mundane items. wood, anything to keep the ship afloat and stocked.
However it has transpired that certain pirates did have treasure. The infamous Captain Kidd’s booty, the stuff of legend has been discovered off the coast off Madagascar, near Sainte Marie, also known as Pirate Island, which was used as a hideout by pirates in the 17th century.
What do we know of the mysterious and infamous Captain Kidd. Did he really swing from the yard-arm and say ‘Ahoy, me hearties?’ And just what happened to the woman he went onto marry’s husband? Naturally, given the little accident that befell my own, I do confess to a passing interest…. And just look at him in this natty red coat. My favourite colour.
1 Captain William Kidd was either one of the most notorious pirates in the history of the world, or one of its most unjustly vilified and prosecuted privateers, in an age typified by the rationalisations of empire.
2 Captain Kidd was born in Dundee—Shehanne’s home city. Kidd said he was 41 in 1694/5. This would mean he was born later than the alleged year of 1644. A baptismal record does exist for a William Kidd, the son of John Kidd and Bessie Butchart. The date is 22nd January 1654, approximately three years after the town was sacked and razed to the ground and the governor’s head placed on a pike, during the English Civil War.
Several Kidds lived in Dundee, in nearby Monifieth and also in Arbirlot in Angus. On the whole, looking at the picture above I’d rather have lived in Arbirlot in Angus…
3 John Kidd was a sea captain who was lost at sea.
4 William Kidd named his cabin boy Dundee.
5. Apart from the discovery of a small sea box, bearing the inscription “William Kidd – Leith” nothing is known of Kidd’s life as a young man. Twenty years are unaccounted for before he surfaced in 1689 when, as a member of a privateer crew in the Caribbean, he successfully commandeered a French ship. However he didn’t like the Navy, at one stage early in his career, sailing away during the night to preserve his crew, rather than subject them to impressment. Bad memoires, or what?
6 In 1690 Kidd suddenly turned up in New York. At the time, New York was in the middle of a rebellion. The self appointed leader of the colony, Jacob Leisler had refused to recognize the newly appointed Governor, Col. Henry Sloughter. Kidd, after assessing the situation, agreed to join forces with the Governor and offered to ferry guns and ammunition to help put down the rebellion. For this action, Kidd received £150 and a commendation from the Governor.
7 Kidd became a well known and respected New Yorker. He met Sarah Bradley Cox Oort, the wife of John Oort, a wealthy landowner and businessman in the city. William and Sarah applied for a marriage license on May 16 1691, just two days after John Oort suddenly and mysteriously died. The exact cause of death isn’t known, however speculation and rumour was rife, with both Kidd and Sarah suspected of being implicated in his death. Nothing could be proved however, and so William and Sarah, together with Sarah’s two daughters from a previous marriage, settled down to respectable married life.
8 On 11 December 1695, Belmont, who was now governing New York, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, asked the “trusty and well beloved Captain Kidd” to attack Thomas Tew, John Ireland, Thomas Wake, William Maze, and all others who associated themselves with pirates, along with any enemy French ships.
9 Kidd killed one of his own crewmen on 30 October 1697. While Kidd’s gunner, William Moore—hopefully no ancestor of Shehanne-s–, was on deck sharpening a chisel, a Dutch ship appeared in sight. Moore urged Kidd to attack the Dutchman, an act not only piratical but also certain to anger the Dutch-born King William. Kidd refused, calling Moore a lousy dog. Moore retorted, “If I am a lousy dog, you have made me so; you have brought me to ruin and many more.” Kidd snatched up and heaved an ironbound bucket at Moore. Moore fell to the deck with a fractured skull and died the following day
10 While seventeenth-century English admiralty law allowed captains great leeway in using violence against their crew, outright murder was not permitted. But Kidd seemed unconcerned, later explaining to his surgeon that he had “good friends in England, that will bring me off for that.”
11 Bellmont was away in Boston, Massachusetts. Aware of the accusations against Kidd, Bellmont was afraid of being implicated in piracy himself, and knew that presenting Kidd to England in chains was his best chance to save himself. He lured Kidd into Boston with false promises of clemency, then ordered him arrested on 6 July 1699. Kidd was initially placed in Stone Prison, spending most of the time in solitary confinement. His wife, Sarah, was also imprisoned.
12 The new Tory ministry hoped to use Kidd as a tool to discredit the Whigs who had backed him, but Kidd refused to name names, naively confident his patrons would reward his loyalty by interceding on his behalf. There is speculation that he probably would have been spared had he talked. Finding Kidd politically useless, the Tory leaders sent him to stand trial before the High Court of Admiralty in London, for the charges of piracy on high seas and the murder of William Moore.
13 Kidd was shocked to learn at his trial that he was charged with murder. He was found guilty on all charges (murder and five counts of piracy). He was hanged on 23 May 1701, at ‘Execution Dock’, Wapping, in London.
14 During the execution, the hangman’s rope broke and Kidd was hanged on the second attempt. His body was gibbeted over the River Thames at Tilbury Point—as a warning to future would-be pirates—for three years.
15 The belief that Kidd had left buried treasure contributed considerably to the growth of his legend.. This belief made its contributions to literature in Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Gold-Bug”; Washington Irving’s The Devil and Tom Walker and Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island.